Saturday 17 May 2014

MTV IGGY: Selector: Joe Kay's Essential Guide To Soulection

By Joseph 'JP' Patterson

For an indie to be homed in such a competitive world of its own like Los Angeles, Soulection has done well in utilizing the online space and the curating of intimate, live events as its marketing ploys for next-to-no dollar. A diverse platform, which began as a radio show and resulted in a full-time-staffed record company, founders Joe Kay and Guillaume Bonte’s penchant for atmospheric, electronic-licked soul beats helped mark Soulection’s territory in 2011, and, by taking under-the-radar acts they spun on-air and putting them through their major label-envied promotion process, a global, cult-like movement across producers, DJs, and creatives has formed off the back of it, too. As cliché as it may sound, for many, Soulection really is more than just music. It’s a way of life. A culture, even.

By the day, by the hour, artists from far and wide (Manchester, England to San Diego, CA) Dropbox Kay and crew the leftest of cuts in hope of obtaining an EP deal or, less, a Soulection SoundCloud stream to help kick-start their career; the demand for this independent’s co-sign has never been more high. Last year, however, right in the thick of things, co-founder Guillaume Bonte decided to up-sticks and leave Soulection to start new concept-label, Cosmonostro. But no love was lost: he was quickly replaced in the form of renowned art director Andre Power, and the proof of what he’s brought to the fold is all in the name.

Now in its third year of business, Soulection couldn’t be in a better position. Majors? Mainstream radio? Yep! They all want in. MTV IGGY spoke with Joe Kay recently to get his essential guide to the future-thinking label, but also insight on what it brings to the current music industry. (He includes a few tips on how tune-makers can catch the attention of his A&R scouts, too). Read on for inspiring thoughts.

What does Soulection bring to the music industry’s table that other labels, perhaps, don’t?

We’re all about honest music. And, not to take away from anyone else, I feel like we have really built a culture, more than just music. Our sound’s very niche and diverse, with elements of every genre, but when you hear it — you know it’s Soulection. It’s pretty much progressed into its own genre. There could be a big artist who isn’t associated with us, whether inspired by our sound or on their own, and if they do something similar, everyone automatically connects it to Soulection, so it’s crazy how things have progressed.

I think having no format, we pride ourselves on not following what’s been done before. We just do what feels right. We follow our hearts with consistent content, whether artistically, musically, our clothing, merch, the way we interact, it’s all about a personal connection. The business came afterwards, at some point we gotta eat off this and take care of the artists. Everyone involved, the artist, staff, interns, they’re about the inner person and very loving. There’s no hype with numbers and all of that bullshit.

You guys have released a few bass and future garage cuts, too, so it’s not all leftfield hip-hop-soul as some might think. What qualities do you and your team look for in a producer?

We look for music that stands out and hits the soul. It doesn’t always have to be R&B samples or warm chord progression, which is what we’re known for. In the beginning, we were trying to find that sound that was heading where we wanted to be, and we do have that signature sound, but it was harder to find that then. Now, there are so many people doing similar sounds to our artists. We get many submissions now that sound like music we were putting out a year and a half ago, and they’re assuming that’s the sound we’re still looking for. We’ve already broken away from what we did, and are constantly moving to a new direction. Is it unique? Has it been done? And, if it has been done, is it a new fusion? Is there a timeless essence? I don’t need to mention labels or names but you can decide who makes music for the moment, and who makes music that you can purchase on vinyl record and play it literally years down the line for friends and family.

The Soulection collective will be touring Europe from May 23, with two stop-offs in the UK. So, your live shows. What’s the vibe?

Our live shows are really personal. A couple months ago, we played in Miami, first time for a lot of us, and the stage was on the second level and looking down on people — which we’re not used to. We like being connected to the people, engaging with the people; it’s all about audience engagement. There’s a good balance of playing the right track selection: we keep it smooth, melodic, and bring up the energy. We hate it when people are sitting down, so we try to get them moving. The UK’s our second biggest market out of Los Angeles for us.

The people in Europe, in general, they’re ready for the music. They just tend to get it a lot faster and I want to make sure we bring that energy. The significance of it being our first time there and the demand to see everyone for the first time, along with the history in music culture you guys have, will make it really special. Our events are always good, ‘cos we’re almost like a band when we play. We get booked as a crew a lot of the time, and know each other inside out. The flow and teamwork is really on point. It’s gonna be a party with variety, just know that.



"This is one of the first tracks we released that had an original vocalist. For the most part, we’re a producer-heavy roster, primarily because we couldn’t find the right vocalists or MCs so sampling comes into play a lot of the time. It’s hard to come across a really great vocalist that could flow over the records. Middle Of Things, Beautiful Wife is one of our top-selling records to this day, and I think it’s a quality example of what a complete track should sound like from start to finish. Spazzy Rocket is so unique with the vocals. The message and storyline behind it, matched with the production, makes for a great listen."


"Evil Needle’s So Fly is a top three classic record of all time. There’s been 33 official releases to date, 8 white labels, so over 40 releases, and this track has been one of our most signature drops. I’ve noticed a lot of artists who aren’t on Soulection have written to ‘So Fly’ and put out their own covers of it, which is super cool."


"DPat, Sango, and Isles' Above Us is one incredible record. To me, the vocal direction nods towards James Blake, The Weeknd – it’s got that kind of vibe to it. The delivery of the production and Isles’ vocals mesh really well."


"This Atu track is sample-heavy but original. He flipped it into a whole new direction. Atu was really one of the first producers from SoundCloud to take R&B samples and flip it into his own. You feel like he creates it. After him, you’ve seen hundreds uploading similar vibes. But no one can do it like him."


"Pheo is a rapper from Maraino Valley, California, and Real Old Cigar is a track I worked closely with him on. He’s very soulful, and the delivery of his flow is too smooth. A grown man talking about this woman and how he’s going to approach her, rather than just fucking her, is refreshing to hear."

This also appeared over at MTV IGGY: H E R E